When people follow weird “procedures” care is pushed to the side.
The other morning, I had to get my health card (and, in turn, my driver license) renewed. The form was mailed to my home. I filled in the form and then noticed that I had to bring said form to their offices. There were fees to be paid and a picture to be taken (still trying to figure out which is my good side ;). The office only opens at 9 am. While the weather should be shifting to spring any hour now, it was still a balmy 14 degrees. Winter isn’t coming. Winter is still here in beautiful Montreal. As I parked my car, I noticed that a line was starting to form outside. As we were waiting in line (I was about thirty minutes early), employees continued to arrive. They would wait outside for one of their peers to notice that they were standing there, someone would unlock the door, let them in and then lock the door again. It’s cold outside. Not deadly cold… but still… winter-ish. This office occupied a retail level space that has an entry space big enough to hold the handful of “customers” waiting on line, and that space has another door that opens into their main office space… but nope… you can all wait outside.
It doesn’t end there.
Once the office is opened, everyone must get in line and wait to be called. It’s the classic (and traditional) bank teller/DMV situation. People behind a counter separated by glass/plastic. The majority of people there to renew their license and health card must also take a photo. Only one of the tellers has the camera. The confusion starts right away. There must be an easier way. There is always an easier way. But, one thing is clear: nobody cares. This is their job. This is how they were trained. They were probably trained in another location. Whoever created the training probably did it without knowing the intricacies of what each office might deal with, because the offices spaces are different (retail-level office space vs. a regular office space located in a building somewhere, or how many cameras will each office have? etc…).
If the boss doesn’t care, should the employees care?
A good manager or a good boss, might show up to work, see people standing outside on a cold winter day and say, “let’s bring those people inside… we don’t have to start serving them until 9 am, but they will probably be thankful and more kind if we show them that we care about their well-being.” It’s not just an act of kindness. Seeing someone (especially a business owner, manager or employee) do something humane and caring – no matter your mood – will put you in a better mood. This will change the entire dynamic at work. If I’m cold, tired and forced to wait inside while I watch employees sipping on coffee, gabbing and laughing in their warm office space, what is going to be my demeanor by the time I get my turn at the counter (especially if I am there with a problem that needs to be fixed)? Emotions are a funny thing. They’re viral. Make a few people feel good (while others watch) and everyone’s mood will change. Make everyone feel like they don’t matter (while everyone watches) and everyone’s mood will change.
You can still care (even when you don’t have to care).
That’s actually the theme of a great business, and it’s the core of great marketing, innovation and transformation. Truly caring about how each step in your business process can affect the consumers (and your team members) is one of the subtle things that separates the greats from the ho-hums. It’s also infectious. When everyone on your team thinks about little ways to care more for the customers and their peers, magic happens. Pure magic. Not the fake bump that happens when you put something on sale, and not the anecdote everyone passes around when a customer service call goes way better than expected. Pure magic. A change in perception. A change in how people think. A pride in how they work. A desire to help. A want to serve.
Imagine… all of that comes from letting those who are cold get a little warmer.